Producers Invited to Join Informal Discussion Groups in Southcentral and Southwestern PA
Posted: February 16, 2009
Penn State Dairy Alliance is currently forming discussion groups for dairy producers in southcentral and southwestern Pennsylvania who want an opportunity to meet regularly so they may network and learn from each other.
“Dairy Alliance is offering these discussion groups to provide producers a forum to meet with other producers in a supportive environment that promotes peer-to-peer learning,” explained Dr. Lisa Holden, acting director of Penn State Dairy Alliance. The discussion groups will be organized based on producers’ common interests, goals, and geographic location. All dairy producers are invited to join in the discussion groups. Groups will select their own discussion topics and meeting times.
Dave Hileman, a leader in the Pennsylvania dairy industry and a life-long dairy producer from Tyrone, Pa., in Blair County, has joined the Dairy Alliance team to facilitate the discussion groups. “Dave brings to the project a lifetime of experience in dairy management, as well as many years of service to local, state, and national dairy organizations,” noted Holden, adding: “His unique perspective on the industry will be a valuable resource to our discussion groups.”
As project facilitator, Hileman will help form the discussion groups by identifying producers with similar interests in similar locations, and will assist in making certain that the logistical needs of the groups are met. “Producers need an opportunity to talk with other producers to exchange ideas and experiences; that’s the whole purpose of these discussion groups,” said Hileman. “Discussion groups can be beneficial in many ways. Producers can learn from their peers with similar interests, share information about ‘real world’ dairying, and get new ideas to make their own operations or herds even better.”
Hileman stressed that the goal is to bring producers together in an informal atmosphere to focus on topics of particular interest to them. “Discussion groups can form around a variety of topics or concerns,” explained Hileman. “Do you want healthier cows? Join a discussion group focused on cow health. Do you want more profit? Join a group focused on improving business practices and the bottom line. Groups will be formed based on producer need.” In addition to immediate learning opportunities, Hileman believes the discussion groups will provide producers an important social outlet and can help them form professional relationships for the future.
- Dr. Lisa Holden, acting director of Penn State Dairy Alliance.
It is anticipated that groups will be comprised of 6-10 producers and will meet up to six times per year for approximately two hours per session. There is no charge to participate in the discussion groups. The only cost to the producer is for his/her meal if the group chooses to meet over breakfast, lunch or dinner. Producers may indicate their interest in joining a discussion group by contacting the Penn State Dairy Alliance office, toll-free, at 888-373-723, or by completing the online registration survey found on the program Web site at dairyalliance.psu.edu/education/discussion-groups.
Dave Hileman operated Hilecrest Farms, which consisted of 700 acres of cropland and 450 milking cows and 300 replacements. Hileman’s expertise and influence in the industry have been recognized with several honors, including the Pennsylvania Dairy Stakeholders Pacesetter Award, the Pennsylvania Dairy Association Charles E. Cowen Memorial Award, and the Country Folks newspaper’s Keystone Farmer of the Year Award. Hilecrest Farms is also a past recipient of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Small Business Award.
Hileman has held director and officer positions in many local, state, and national organizations. In addition, he has been elected president or chairman of numerous boards of directors, including president of Genex Cooperative board of directors and chairman of Cooperative Resources International board of directors. He is also a past president of the Master Farmers’ Association and the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania.
In April 2008, Hileman sold Hilecrest dairy operations and 300 acres to a neighboring dairy producer, but remains active as a management consultant for Hilecrest LLC and facilitates the biweekly managers’ meetings. He and wife Janet are members of St. John’s Lutheran Church of Sinking Valley and the Sinking Valley Grange.Dairy Alliance is a Penn State Cooperative Extension initiative.